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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 09-11-05, 07:16 PM   #1
The Rob
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By the end of this week, the missus and I should be rid of the four-wheeled beast.

It's a good beast mind you, a 2003 Toyota Matrix that has performed well and has come in handy more than once due to it's capacity (hauling groceries, moving, helping other people move, etc.), but the wife and I finally decided that it truly wasn't essential and in fact less than non-essential; in lease payments, gas(!), and insurance the vehicle is costing us roughly $400 per month, and last week we came to realize that in this city it makes no sense to burden ourselves with the "convenience". And so we're turning it in, sayonara, perhaps occasionally missed but never mourned, hasta la vista, ciao baby, goombye!

As you would expect, certain of our friends feel we've lost our minds.

Now for the really cool part. On our runs around town this last week picking up bikey odds and ends in preparation for this carless adventure, we made out like bandits! We should have been wearing masks.

*Bike Gallery was having a 50% OFF accessory sale, and we picked up two rechargeable dual-headlight systems for $50 apiece.

*At Citybikes Workers' Cooperative (http://www.citybikes.coop/annex.htm), a place we'd never been but wanted to check out, we found SPD-compatable bike shoes in our respective sizes for $20 each pair. The missus also picked up some used Shimano 'clipless' pedals, which appeared to have never been used, for $12 (I already had pedals but hadn't bought shoes for them). We're going back in a couple of weeks to pick up some bike chains and locks. It's like freakin' Xmas around here.

About those 'clipless' pedals: Now I see what the fuss is about! We practiced for about an hour tonight in the parking lot, and the things are great. Haven't even fallen (yet).



Anyway. Just sayin'.
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Old 09-11-05, 07:58 PM   #2
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Super! Not having to come up with that after-tax $400 month after month can sure put some fun back into your life. Have a great time.
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Old 09-11-05, 08:01 PM   #3
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Thank you sir! We shall indeed!
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Old 09-11-05, 09:53 PM   #4
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Since I have been carfree off and on (more on than off) for most of my life, it seems real natural to me. Maybe I even get a little jaded sometimes. It's refreshing to hear from people who are just starting on this road (or bike lane?) with enthusiasm and vigor. Thanks for your posts, and I hope this forum will be of use to you and your wife.
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Old 09-11-05, 10:45 PM   #5
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Thanks! We're pretty excited. We have access to FlexCar here, but we'll use that only for those occasions where transport of goods via bike or public transportation prove infeasable. There will be work-arounds for sure (perhaps two smaller trips to the supermarket per week instead of one huge run every two weeks, for instance), but those only mean more opportunities to ride. We're all for that!
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Old 09-11-05, 11:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobCat
Thanks! We're pretty excited. We have access to FlexCar here, but we'll use that only for those occasions where transport of goods via bike or public transportation prove infeasable. There will be work-arounds for sure (perhaps two smaller trips to the supermarket per week instead of one huge run every two weeks, for instance), but those only mean more opportunities to ride. We're all for that!
It is likely that when you slow down a bit on your bikes, you will probably find more local alternatives to the supermarket, too. Look around for produce markets, farmer's markets, bakeries, butcher shops, ethnic groceries, etc. I even buy groceries at a Rite-Aid drugstore that's next to the hospital where I work. Good prices on cereal, peanut butter, raisins, coffee, etc. We have dairy stores around here too, but a lot of cities don't. Ethnic groceries are often cheaper than even discount supermarkets, and they have strange (to us) foods that you can try at home. The quality of food is higher at specialty stores like bakeries, meat shops, etc. And don't forget dollar stores, which carry a lot on non-food staples.
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Old 09-13-05, 12:43 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobCat
By the end of this week, the missus and I should be rid of the four-wheeled beast.

It's a good beast mind you, a 2003 Toyota Matrix that has performed well and has come in handy more than once due to it's capacity (hauling groceries, moving, helping other people move, etc.), but the wife and I finally decided that it truly wasn't essential and in fact less than non-essential; in lease payments, gas(!), and insurance the vehicle is costing us roughly $400 per month, and last week we came to realize that in this city it makes no sense to burden ourselves with the "convenience". And so we're turning it in, sayonara, perhaps occasionally missed but never mourned, hasta la vista, ciao baby, goombye!

As you would expect, certain of our friends feel we've lost our minds.

Now for the really cool part. On our runs around town this last week picking up bikey odds and ends in preparation for this carless adventure, we made out like bandits! We should have been wearing masks.

*Bike Gallery was having a 50% OFF accessory sale, and we picked up two rechargeable dual-headlight systems for $50 apiece.

*At Citybikes Workers' Cooperative (http://www.citybikes.coop/annex.htm), a place we'd never been but wanted to check out, we found SPD-compatable bike shoes in our respective sizes for $20 each pair. The missus also picked up some used Shimano 'clipless' pedals, which appeared to have never been used, for $12 (I already had pedals but hadn't bought shoes for them). We're going back in a couple of weeks to pick up some bike chains and locks. It's like freakin' Xmas around here.

About those 'clipless' pedals: Now I see what the fuss is about! We practiced for about an hour tonight in the parking lot, and the things are great. Haven't even fallen (yet).



Anyway. Just sayin'.
You ditched the car and spent time with the wife, and your starting an adventure. OK, I will go on record here- I still get giddy at the prospect of riding my bike when everybody else is stuck in a car. Please record your highlights for everybody and how about a pic of "Max" (light rail) and the bike hangars.
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Old 09-13-05, 09:44 AM   #8
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Carless said:
<< You ditched the car and spent time with the wife, and you're starting an adventure. >>

I have to second this and give you a gold star for the romance quotient. No doubt you will face some challenges, but you'll figure them out and your relationship will be all the better. Three cheers for two of you!

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Old 09-13-05, 11:40 AM   #9
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You are very lucky in living in a city that actually supports cycling as an viable alternative to the car-not a cute novialty that Southern California turned it into. There seems to be ways that almost anyone in your community has access to a motor vehicle when it is needed. Most of the time in other communities, you have to house one all the time in order to use it for necessities. How crazy is that?
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Old 09-13-05, 11:50 AM   #10
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i stoped at a gas station yesterday to get a water, i took a look around and every one pumping gas looked so pissed off. you know, i got enough worries in my life,having to worry about the price of gas is not one of them.
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Old 09-25-05, 09:12 PM   #11
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Aarghh, didn't see any email notifications, so I thought my thread had died. Haven't had the opportunity to read the last week.

Not missing the car at all. I have to admit that when I came down the stairs with the bike for my commute to work the day after the car was collected, I stood and looked at the empty parking space and said aloud to myself, "It feels like poverty...but it's not". It was an odd, giddy feeling, hard to describe. Now two weeks into it (we decided to begin riding full-time even before the car was gone), I couldn't be happier with the decision.

What's interesting is how the car-free lifestyle makes you re-think priorities and logistics, and planning errands for which we used the car without a second's thought.
We're learning economy of motion and we're opening our eyes to the neighborhoods; they're coming alive, rather than serving as only barely-perceived conduits on the way from point A to point B.

Oh, and we've already been taught a lesson. Last weekend we rode to a coffee-house and then to the local library, where we dutifully locked our bikes outside and went in to wander the stacks in search of new books. We stayed for perhaps thirty minutes, checked out a couple of books, and left the building to find our bikes still secure where we left them...but without our headlights. D'Oh! That won't happen again. The headlights go with us if we have to leave the bikes for any length of time, which won't be very often as one or the other of us can watch them while the other shops. Losing the bikes to theft is not an option.

Still haven't fallen in the pedals , but the missus has one Hell of a walloping bruise on her right arm. Had to loosen the right pedal a notch.

Thanks for all the supportive comments!

-Rob
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Old 09-25-05, 10:04 PM   #12
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I think thats so cool what you guys are doing. It makes me want to do that too. Well, I'm basically already doing that. I'm trying not to use my car anymore. Keep on posting on your experiences, its fun to read.
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Old 09-26-05, 08:16 AM   #13
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Old 09-26-05, 08:20 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cabana 4 life
i stoped at a gas station yesterday to get a water, i took a look around and every one pumping gas looked so pissed off. you know, i got enough worries in my life,having to worry about the price of gas is not one of them.

Jeez, doesn't it get just a little cold in January at night in Muskegon to be bikeriding?
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Old 09-26-05, 09:52 AM   #15
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Jeez, doesn't it get just a little cold in January at night in Muskegon to be bikeriding?

The body produces a whole lot of heat when riding a bike. Keeping cool (I.E. not overdressing) enough when riding is the challenge in winter. Extremities can be a problem but can be addressed with proper gloves and boots.
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Old 09-26-05, 03:53 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roody
Since I have been carfree off and on (more on than off) for most of my life, it seems real natural to me. Maybe I even get a little jaded sometimes. It's refreshing to hear from people who are just starting on this road (or bike lane?) with enthusiasm and vigor. Thanks for your posts, and I hope this forum will be of use to you and your wife.
My sentiments, almost exactly. When I first got back into biking about 10 years ago, it was an adjustment, but a very enjoyable one. Portland is a great city of our likes (rated as the best in the U.S.) - bike paths everywhere, an active bike community, great public transit... just awsome
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Old 09-26-05, 04:31 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by BenyBen
The body produces a whole lot of heat when riding a bike. Keeping cool (I.E. not overdressing) enough when riding is the challenge in winter. Extremities can be a problem but can be addressed with proper gloves and boots.
You are exactly right. The dread of "bad" weather is psychological and cultural, not physiological. You actually "think cold" rather than feel cold.

Whenever I think cold, I remind myself of the Native Americans and pioneers who lived in Michigan with none of the miracle fabrics and centrally heated homes that we take for granted. Native Americans here hunted in the same clothing (leggings and moccasins, basically) in winter and summer. They warmed up afterward with an open fire and a fur blanket. They lived like this for thousands of years before we came along. The word is that they were quite happy, too.
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Old 09-26-05, 10:41 PM   #18
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Reading these comments (and again, thanks to all!), I'm thinking that what we're getting acquainted with is effort. What we in modern society call 'effort' is too often simply frustration; preoccupation with traffic, parking, the prices of oil and gas, insurance rates, and all the things that inspire a low-grade dissatisfaction that many perhaps don't even acknowledge consciously. No wonder that many people become sullen and aggressive once behind a steering wheel. I was like that and hope never to be again. We (my wife and I) have found that we'd rather raise our heart rates astride our bikes than raise our blood pressures idling along in a big metal box. Nothing beats the pleasant fatigue of honest and healthy effort.

Today's commute was great, by the way. Chilly this morning on the Springwater with a low mist over the water, and glorious on the way homeward, pedaling easily for awhile and watching scullers on the river. Sure beats driving.
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Old 09-27-05, 06:39 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roody
You are exactly right. The dread of "bad" weather is psychological and cultural, not physiological. You actually "think cold" rather than feel cold.

Whenever I think cold, I remind myself of the Native Americans and pioneers who lived in Michigan with none of the miracle fabrics and centrally heated homes that we take for granted. Native Americans here hunted in the same clothing (leggings and moccasins, basically) in winter and summer. They warmed up afterward with an open fire and a fur blanket. They lived like this for thousands of years before we came along. The word is that they were quite happy, too.

Yar, it amazes me how people will ask "isn't it cold out there for biking" all the time, when they would be willing to go out for hours at a time in -20C to ski. Skiing makes you produce less heat then cycling, and pits you against stronger winds (sometimes).

And I do believe that most humans have the strenght to withstand colder temperature then they think. People can get used to it with exposure. There is also the simple equation "effort = warmth". Once you accept that, and accept the effort, winter becomes easier to go through.
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Old 09-27-05, 08:25 AM   #20
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That's right BenyBen. I find myself unzipping jackets and sweatshirts ten minutes into a ride in the dead of winter, and this sure as heck ain't Florida. After twenty minutes, the sweatshrt is off and I am riding in leggings and a long sleeve bike shirt.
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Old 09-27-05, 04:19 PM   #21
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One little precaution. Riding warms you up better than walking. So I carry a warm sweater in my backpack JUST IN CASE the bike breaks down and I have to walk a few miles. Any machinery, including a bike, is more apt to break in extreme cold.
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Old 09-27-05, 08:58 PM   #22
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One little precaution. Riding warms you up better than walking. So I carry a warm sweater in my backpack JUST IN CASE the bike breaks down and I have to walk a few miles. Any machinery, including a bike, is more apt to break in extreme cold.
Dang, y'know I doubt I would have thought of that. Makes sense to have a dry jacket for emergencies rather than trudging along in a sodden one. Good tip!
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Old 10-05-05, 08:58 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by af895
RobCat: truly inspirational. I'm on the verge of ditching my car but it's tearing me to pieces because I'm not sure how it's going to affect my life... :\ Mine's a beater so it's paid for but it's still costing $1,000+/year for insurance and registration alone. Nevermind fuel, oil, maintenance.
Odd that I received an email notification of your post but don't see it here.

af895, we have it pretty easy here in the Portland area, where going without an automobile isn't as difficult as it would be in a less cycling-friendly city. It might take a bit of research on your part to determine how feasable it is for you. In our case we don't have children, our respective workplaces are close to each other as well as close to home, and our neighborhood allows easy and quick shopping and errands.

That said, I'd encourage you to take a thorough look at your options and give it a try. Give yourself a week or two and pretend you don't have a car!

Good luck!
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